A New York City councilman wants state officials to give restaurants a break on strict rules for ordering booze that are weighing on their reopening plans.
Manhattan Councilman Keith Powers urged the State Liquor Authority to temporarily lift rules that have landed legions of eateries on a “delinquent list” amid the coronavirus pandemic, as The Post reported this week.
Being on the list forces restaurateurs with overdue booze bills to shell out cash for new orders of beer, wine and spirits. Relaxing the rules for at least 30 days could help cash-strapped restaurants restock their bars without adding to their already hefty financial burdens, Powers argued.
“As restaurants reopen in Phase Two, we must ensure they are not only able to open their doors again but keep them open,” Powers, a Democrat, wrote in a Thursday letter to SLA Chair Vincent Bradley.
Powers, a member of the council’s economic development and consumer affairs committees, echoed trade groups’ calls for the SLA to temporarily waive the delinquency rules, which the New York City Hospitality Alliance estimates have ensnared a majority of the city’s eateries and bars.
The delinquent list prevents merchants from buying alcohol on credit, a common practice in which they pay for orders after receiving them. That has forced restaurants to save cash to replenish their booze supplies after going three months with little to no revenue thanks to the state’s coronavirus shutdown.
“All the bars and restaurants that I’ve talked to in my district are hanging on as they figure out how to pay extremely expensive rent and try to reopen,” Powers told The Post. “It is going to be an immense challenge for all of them.”
The lawmaker said the SLA should also allow restaurateurs to negotiate payment plans with alcohol wholesalers as they can with any other vendor, which state law currently precludes.
Powers — who represents swaths of Midtown and the Upper East Side — plans to hold further talks about the issue with the SLA. He said the state legislature should take action if the agency doesn’t provide relief on its own.
“This is an unpredictable moment, and the State Liquor Authority should be doing everything they can to help out bars and restaurants get back on their feet, period,” Powers told The Post.
The SLA did not immediately comment on Powers’s letter.